Let them eat crisps, or Free Vend for AND
This one’s about art, but if you’re one of my political readers I think you’ll appreciate it.
BBC Two’s The Bubble is a news quiz with a difference: the guest have been deliberately isolated from the week’s news, and are shown a selection of real and false news reports. Can they spot the difference? One item on this week’s show deserves a mention. Had an artist really constructed a vending machine which dispensed free packets of crisps when the Chancellor used certain negative words in his Budget speech?
Artist Ellie Harrison explains the thinking behind the work:
A rundown but functional old vending machine stands alone…every now and again, without warning, it springs into life – spewing out free packets of crisps for gallery visitors. The machine has been modified…Its new nervous system is a networked computer. Hidden out of view and running special software, it continually scans the news on the BBC News RSS feed – commanding the machine only to release snacks when words relating to the recession make the headlines.
Whilst seemingly an act of generosity – gifting free food at moments when further doom and gloom is reported – the Vending Machine also hints towards a time in the future when our access to food may literally be determined by wider political or environmental events.
Here’s her own video from an April 2009 installation of the work.
Given that any Budget delivered in the run up to the General Election is inevitably scrutinised for give aways, there’s something peculiarly appropriate about the work responding to the Budget speech. idea. Government generally, and the governing political party in particular, is all too often enticed into using “give aways” to distract from the reality of our daily lives. Vending Machine makes that relationship express.
VENDING MACHINE, by Ellie Harrison
The Dukes Bar, Lancaster until 10 April
Mon – Sat: 10am -11pm, Sun: 7pm – 11pm